Tag Archives: Corcomroe Abbey

Promises to Tomorrow #41 #silence

Last week was the first week in the five years I have been doing a blog that I didn’t post something. I intended too and then felt the silence was the right post. Silence isn’t emptiness – it is fullness.

To be silent

To silence

In silence

Silenced.

 

Each of these states evokes a range of feelings, thoughts … behaviours.

I have been journeying with one for whom silence was the language of God and his yearning to be in union with the silence led to deep monastic practices with all the discipline of a mystic. I revolved around his world like a moon around a sun. Meeting his every need, whim, fear, hope

The banshees are riding on the wild winds this morning, late to the occasion, but in time for me. I have been holding on for so long, they are arriving to shake me about to let go and let down. Elementally speaking, I find myself in The Burren and can feel her beneath my feet. Stepping carefully to avoid the hidden holes, I am consistently unsuccessful, unsteady steps on my lunar landscape. To help I go fetch my John O’Donohue poetry book – Conamara Blues – and the page marked is A Burren Prayer. How is it the cellular memory and my earlier self has prepared a path for me today? All of creation conspiring to help me, so I can rest into silence.

What a gift and I am silenced and in awe. A key revelation is to put down what has been, to be soothed and to rest into this liminal space. To wait. To be still. To find the stillness beyond exhaustion. In the midst of all this life goes on. There is a wedding in a week, another family member having a job interview tomorrow … there is no perfect timing only time and no perfection is required.  My promise to tomorrow is to rest and to wander in the Burren as required and called.

A Burren Prayer

Oremus,

Maria de Petra Fertilis:

 

May the praise of rain on stone

Recall the child lost in the heart’s catacomb.

 

May the light that turns the limestone white

Remind us that our solitude is bright.

 

May the arrival of gentians in their blue surprise

Bring glimpses of delight to our eyes.

 

May the wells that dream in the stone

Soothe the eternal that sleeps in our bone.

 

May the contemplative mind of the mountain

Assure us that nothing is lost or forgotten.

 

May the antiphon of ocean on stone

Guide the waves of loneliness home.

 

May the spirits who dwell in the ruin of Corcomroe

Lead our hearts to the one who is beautiful to know.

 

Go maire na mairbh agus a mbrionggloidi

I bhfoscadh chaion dilis ns Trinoide.

(May the departed and their dreams ever dwell

In the kind and faithful shelter of the Trinity.)

– John O’Donohue

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Reflection on Revenge

Dear Sor Juana,

I have discovered that gossip and scandal, lampooning and scuttle buck are ways revenge takes shape in my language and conversation – from a subtle put down here to a full blown personal attack there.  Words laced with vengeance have a capacity to rise up from a from a well deep inside I had thought was dry. The words echo from this dark chamber and make a lot of noise.

I can see why you might have chosen silence as a way of monitoring your own behaviour. Silence need not still the thoughts and from time to time they eek out through my mouth and become audible.  I had one of those times this past week.  Revenge is one of the dark sides of the desire for control.  I am indebted to Hugh Mackay who unintentionally helped me join those dots this week while I was reading his book “What Makes Us Tick“?  And reminded me once again of the difference between justice and revenge; “one civilised and measured, the other brutish and primitive”.

Control issues are inherent in my personality and the quest for integration is a balance of leadership and power and surrendering to vulnerability. I noticed my anger and vengeful self having a day out this week. Sor Juana your uneasy relationship with power and authority perhaps propelled you through the courts using your intellect to control others and within the container of the convent able to find balance in community and prayer, subjecting yourself to the rule of religious life.

The search for equilibrium is universal and in our western world phrases like “work-life balance” abound. An on / off switch regulating my working hours makes no sense to me. This is becoming easier as work practices are more dynamic and technologically supported; but it is also becoming easier as personal reflection is an integrated practice.  There is no work-life divide – just as there wasn’t for you in the convent – it is vocation to be who you are (warts and all).  I have written about this previously and been encouraged by David Whyte’s work in his book The Three Marriages.  This constant conversation is with all the elements and when the conversation is undertaken in whole heartedness, insights emerge healing and inviting us to our deeper selves. In the case of revenge, it may lead to forgiveness.

Forgiveness begins in the shadows of fear, betrayal, anger and breaches of trust. Finding the light, brings humility and is restorative.  As a pilgrim, I accept “We are each a river with a particular abiding character, but we show radically different aspects of our self according to the territory through which we travel” (David Whyte, The Three Marriages). The river flows through rocky rapids and other times takes up a foetal position in a cul de sac nudging the muddy banks. The invitation to get inside what revenge is all about has been an act of restorative justice. It is self restoration, a coming home to myself from darkness to light and appropriately so in this Holy Week Easter season.

Easter Sunrise

John O’Donohue

As the embrace of the earth
Welcomes all we call death,
Taking deep into itself
The tight solitude of a seed,
Allowing it time
To shed the grip of former form
And give way to a deeper generosity
That will one day send it forth,
A tree into springtime,
May all that holds you

Fall from its hungry ledge
Into the fecund surge of your heart.

 

Corcomroe Abbey, where John O'Donohue celebrated Easter morn many times. I visited in June 2013

Corcomroe Abbey, where John O’Donohue celebrated Easter morn many times. I visited in June 2013